Age:70. I am a husband of over 44 years, father of four, grandfather of 6, Eagle Scout, Vietnam veteran, former Hewlett-Packard production supervisor, and a 2nd-career conservative Lutheran pastor. After seven years in the U.S. Army, I enjoyed a 27-year career in the electronics industry. I responded to God’s call in 1999 to go to seminary and become a Lutheran pastor.
Family/How long in Spokane Valley? Hewlett-Packard transferred us here in 1981. My wife, a legal immigrant from Vietnam, and I raised our four children here while being active members of Redeemer Lutheran Church and helping start and lead Boy Scout Troop 400. Our children went through Central Valley schools and we were involved as room parents and PTSO members. Our oldest daughter went on to marry and adopt two special-needs babies, while her sister pursued a career as a professional dancer. Our oldest son earned a B.S. in math from Washington State University and now enjoys a career as a licensed massage therapist. Our youngest son serves in the U.S. Army as an explosive ordinance disposal technician.
Why did you want to file for candidacy at this time? I love serving our city’s 96,000 residents as their elected City Council representative. During my first term as a city councilman I have been instrumental in capping spending growth, keeping taxes as low as possible and significantly reducing regulations to make a more friendly business environment. I am excited about serving one more term and working on the challenges of funding street preservation and other important infrastructure investments without raising taxes or adding new taxes.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council?
- Keep our streets in the great condition we all love by supporting our reorganized City Staff as they continue developing a new sustainably-funded pavement preservation program. My goal is to implement this new plan without raising taxes or adding new taxes.
2. Complete bridges over or underpasses under the railroad tracks along Trent at Barker, Pines and Park funded mostly by state and federal grants. This will reduce train noise, significantly improve traffic flow and contribute to economic development.
3. Build a new library and park across from our new City Hall funded by private foundation grants, corporate sponsorships and individual contributions (no tax increase or new taxes!).
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future? Funding important infrastructure investments such as pavement preservation without raising taxes or imposing new taxes. This is being done by growing our city’s economy so that tax revenues increase without raising tax rates. Our city staff’s Economic Development team is working hard at this by recruiting new businesses and implementing tourism and retail-growth programs. City staff also aggressively applies for state and federal grants with the goal of funding capital improvements with 80-percent grant money.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops? I doorbell business and residents. Businesses on the west end of our city and residents on the north and west ends are most concerned about property crimes (I support the investment of surplus city funds for property crime reduction). Residents primarily on the northwest corner of our city are tired of the train noise. Overall, business love doing business in Spokane Valley and folks who live here love our great schools, lower taxes, and relatively low crime rate. Folks mainly want to live their lives with minimal government interference.
What differences separate you from your opponent? I am at a point in my life where my schedule is flexible so I can meet with citizens and businesses. I hold weekly town-hall meetings in public places: community is built one cup of coffee at a time! I have a good track record for responding to citizen input and making things happen. I am on record as never voting for a new tax or a tax increase. In fact, I made a motion to lower the property tax rate. My opponent has voted for and spoken in favor of tax increases. Also, unlike my opponent, I want to keep government local and not get involved in regional entanglements. I also lobby hard with our state legislators for reducing state regulations, restoring property, individual and parental rights, and taking away rule-making authority from unelected agencies and commissions. Unlike my opponent, I am all about lower taxes, less government and more freedom.
Family/How long living in Spokane Valley: I am a fourth-generation Spokane Valleyite, born and raised in Spokane Valley. My great grandfather had a dairy farm where Sprague and Interstate 90 is now that he lost during the great depression. My grandfather built homes along Wick Street in the south part of the valley and started Spokane Recycling as well as a number of other small businesses. My father was also civically involved serving on the East Valley school board for a number of years.
I am happily married to my wife Danica and have three amazing daughters (Sabriel - 5, Hermione - 3, and Celaena - 1).
Why did you want to file for candidacy again? When I lost my election, a new majority took over on the City Council and the decisions and actions weren’t representative of what I believe our community would want nor ones that I believe were in the best interest of our city. I originally dedicated time to recruit and encourage others to run for office and quickly found myself joining back in to help bring back open, honest government and common-sense leadership.
What are your goals for the Spokane Valley City Council in the next four years?
My goals are simple:
• Bring back open and honest government, there are too many decisions made behind closed doors without public comment or with a rushed process to limit public input.
• Prioritizing funding for street maintenance. The city recently rolled over $3 million dollars in unspent revenue from the last year I served on the council and shortly after released a projection of having a little more than $2.2 million of more revenue than expenses for the proposed 2018 budget. Yet not one of the city council members has proposed allocating any addition funds to street maintenance even though they all have a report saying that we are not keeping up with our street maintenance. Since leaving the city council at the end of 2015 grant matching dollars have dropped from 70-percent matching dollars to less than 40-percent matching dollars and my opponent who represents our city to the regional transportation board hasn’t even attended 50% of their meetings over the last year.
• Use the tax money wisely. Our current city council is wasting tax payer money, they are proposing ordinances and spending time and resources on subjects that are outside of the scope of city government and in some instances violations of the state constitution and laws. Our dollars would be better spent on improving our public safety programs and / or funding street maintenance which are the core responsibilities of our city.
What, in your mind, is the biggest issue facing the city in the immediate future?
Prioritizing city spending. The city of Spokane Valley has had a great financial foundation which has put them in a position of currently having excess revenue over routine expenses. However, it is giving the city council the ability to add items that aren’t in the best interest of our city instead of taking care of the larger items that would help keep our city ahead of the curve, such as street maintenance. The city has repeatedly stated that they aren’t able to keep up with the repairs on our local streets, yet our city council hasn’t proposed allocating any additional funds to street maintenance or preservation. Instead they have spent over $500k in severance packages to keep fired employees quiet, returned awarded grant monies, and are proposing to spend $200k enhancing CenterPlace, hiring additional city employees, and passing ordinances that violate the state constitution and laws which will tie the city up in costly legal challenges. We need councilmembers who will bring back our city’s focus to the core responsibilities of public safety and roads and provide common sense leadership to move us forward.
What surprising issues are people bringing up as you door-knock or meet folks at campaign stops?
1) I was amazed at how many security cameras have been installed on homes. This leads me to believe that we need to put more emphasis on public safety and specifically property crimes. If we don’t have a safe city then nothing else really matters.
2) The number of apartments / high density developments. We need to be preserving our neighborhoods. I don’t believe apartment and high-density development is right for everywhere. We became a city so that we can control our own destiny, we don’t have to transform into sardineville.
What differences separate you from your opponent?
There are a couple of main differences.
• Taxes. While previously serving on the city council we were facing a time in which we needed to add additional police coverage and had a growing problem with residential streets going beyond repair with no revenue to provide for either. That year I proposed to take the state allowed 1-percent property tax increase which would have provided just enough revenue to fund one additional police officer. The proposal failed, and a year later we challenged staff to find the money to fund additional officers and start dedicating money for street preservation. From that experience I learned that with a focus on priorities we can find ways to accomplish our goals. We need to stay focused on our core mission and not waste the tax payer money.
Conversely my opponent is running on a pledge of no new taxes and is stating that he hasn’t ever voted for taxes. While this sounds good, I would advise people to look at his record for the truth. He voted for a lodging tax increase and served on the finance committee that proposed the 6-percent utility tax across five utilities (water, sewer, garbage, electricity, and natural gas).
• Role of the city. I believe the city should focus on issues the city is responsible for such as public safety and roads, whereas my opponent proposes and advocates for the city to take on issues such as immunizations, transgender bathrooms, and education reform which are outside of the cities jurisdiction and can only cost the city money in time and legal fees.
Website? electbenwick.org also my email is firstname.lastname@example.org